Laundry Washing Temperature: Hot, Warm or Cold?
Choosing the right washing temperatures is important to keep clothes you're from fading (hot water) or not getting clean enough (cold water.)
Because the washing temperatures directly affect how well your detergent performs and whether clothes fade or shrink, the right wash cycle temperature is important.
Here's how hot, warm and cold wash water temperatures affect how clean your clothes get, and whether they shrink or fade.
Hot water is best for sturdy fabrics such as jeans and children's play clothes with ground-in or hard-to-remove dirt and stains.
The biggest "risk" in choosing hot for your washing temperature is a
color or "dye" transfer between items of different colors being washed
Choose hot water for seriously soiled sturdy fabrics (jeans, cotton blends, synthetics and most whites) and to regularly disinfect dish towels, washcloths, bath towels, bedding and pillowcases, regardless of color.
For best results, keep the whites separate from from dark
blues and bright greens.
Warm water minimizes color fading and wrinkling, and does a good job on seriously soiled clothes.
Choose it for
washing grungy synthetic fibers, natural and synthetic blends, and many
moderately dirty clothes that are either delicate (think silks or
satins) or 100 pure fibers, like cotton.
Often know as the "safety" when it comes to choosing the laundry wash water temperature. Many people choose "cold" when they're simply unsure of what temperature wash water the clothes should be washed in.
Cold will protect most dark or
bright colored-clothing from running and fading, and helps minimize
shrinkage of washable cottons and woolens.
It's best, however, for lightly soiled clothes, clothes with blood, wine, or coffee stains (stains that could set if washed in warm or hot water).
While choosing the "safety" is often the best route, when it comes to your clothes, you should compensate by adding a bit more detergent. This is because detergents are activated by warmer temperatures.
So if you're going the
cold route, you'll need to bridge the gap by adding more detergent than usual to get these clothes clean.
If you choose a cold wash cycle for really grungy clothes, be sure to increase the amount of detergent you use. You'll need more detergent to get these items clean when washing them in cool water.
If you do lots of cold-water washes, consider using a detergent designed to work in all temperatures.
Be Cool. When it comes to the rinse cycle, cold water is the smart, easy choice.
Cold water saves energy (and money) and is fine for all types of loads.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.